The Girl from the Corner Shop

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jul 2019

Member Reviews

This is first book I have read by Arlene Hughes so I had no expectations but historical fiction is my drug of choice at the moment and I loved the cover image..
From the opening chapter, I was reeled in and keen to see where Helen's ups and downs would take us. 
Helen, newly wed, is looking forward to moving from under her mother's thumb (they live and work together in the corner shop of the title) to her first marital home. However, Jim's sudden death in the blitz changes everything. In her grief, Helen finally finds the courage to stand up to her domineering mother and leaves to stand on her own two feet. 
Struggling with temporary work, the prejudices of next door neighbour Ada and handbrakes of the time which hampered women in excelling rather than being a pretty young thing there to please men, Helen joins the Women's Auxiliary Police Force where she can help others and in turn helps herself find her true potential and the road to a new life.
I enjoyed ready of the WW2 era. The hardships of rationing and coupons. The way people share a fried egg! 
 Overall, an easy and captivating read and will be on the lookout for Arlene Hughes other books.
#TheGirlFromTheCornerShop #NetGalley
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What a delightful book
I love this genre of books. The book doesn’t contain a lot of historical facts but the book is set in WW2
The book portrayed what life was like for the people at that time very well 
It is beautifully written and the story flows so well throughout the book
A beautiful heartwarming book that I didn’t want to stop reading
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Helen is a young newlywed living with her mother and working in her mother’s shop. Although Helen hates working in her mother’s shop, she’s hopeful of better things because she and her husband Jim have secured an apartment and are getting ready to finally move out on their own. But then there is a horrible tragedy leaving Helen a young widow and no idea what she wants next in her life, other than getting away from her overbearing and controlling mother. Thus begins a whirlwind of a story as Helen finds her place in the world and finds happiness again. 

Once again, Alrene Hughes has completely blown me away. Helen Harrison is my new book hero and there truly are not enough words to describe how much I love this character! From her wretched mother, losing her husband, trying to find work, trying to keep a roof over her head, nosy neighbor, creepy bosses, and so on – this girl goes through it. However, despite everything that is thrown at her, this young woman kept going and just kept making a better life for herself. After being miserable working in her mother’s shop for next to nothing, she does modeling, waitressing, office work, and eventually becomes a part of the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps (WAPC), which I had never heard of until reading this novel. Founded in 1939, this allowed women that were between 18-55 to be a part of the police force in a variety of roles ranging from telephone operator to walking a beat. In this story, Helen becomes fascinated with the prospect of being a part of the WAPC after working with the police on a robbery and meeting a female police officer, eventually becoming a part of the WAPC herself. 

Of course, there are several wonderful characters intermixing with Helen’s life and experiences. There’s Sgt Duffy with the police department, DC Kershaw that tells Helen about the WAPC, Helen’s godmother Pearl, Ana that Helen modeled with, the hot doctor Laurence, Jim’s best friend Frank, and so on. There are also several creepy, slimy characters, but I don’t want to really discuss them for fear of spoiling any of the plot!

Speaking of plot, just as with The Girl in the Pink Raincoat, this is one that I can’t really go into the happenings of the story because I don’t want to ruin anything. Helen loses her husband, decides not to put up with her mother another minute, and takes off on her own. Throughout the book there are so many twists and turns in Helen’s life with people coming and going, relationships changing, relationships ending, and so on. She has so many incredible experiences – some good, some bad – but nevertheless, she truly lives her life and takes life on head first. 

The only thing in this novel that I did not like, was that it ended. I could have happily continued reading about Helen’s life and not thought a thing about it! I cannot say enough about Alrene Hughes and her mesmerizing storytelling. She brings her characters to life in such unique ways and her plot development will have you completely hooked after the first page.

The Girl From the Corner Shop is a perfect example of what historical fiction should be. This is an outstanding and engaging read that I highly, highly recommend and continue to be impressed but this talented author.

*Special thanks to the author and Head of Zeus and NetGalley for providing an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review!
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The Girl from the Corner Shop is an endearing historical novel.  I thought it was well-written with a good flow and relatable characters.  Helen Harrison is a caring woman who loved her husband with all her heart and his death affects her deeply.  Helen was raised by her mother with a caustic tongue.  She has worked in their shop since she was fourteen and has never received a decent wage.  Grief emboldens Helen allowing her to move out and begin a new job.  I enjoyed watching Helen spread her wings.  It gives her a chance to discover her inner strength and potential.  There may be obstacles thrown in her path and she still has dark days, but Helen finds a way to move forward.  I thought The Girl from the Corner Shop was an emotional story that grabbed my attention and held it.  I could feel Helen’s grief and understood her struggles.  I enjoyed the various crimes that Helen got to investigate and how they were integrated into the story.  I felt they suited the time period and added complexity. The Girl from the Corner Shop is a dramatic and touching novel with a lovely ending.  I look forward to reading more of Arlene Hughes charming stories in the future.
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A wonderfully written and powerfully told saga with a fantastic heroine, a strongly evoked sense of place and plenty of pathos, drama and emotion, The Girl from the Corner Shop is a tale of courage, determination and triumphing against adversity from Alrene Hughes’ immensely talented pen.

Newlyweds Helen and Jim Harrison are madly in love with one another and they have big plans and even bigger dreams. The war makes every moment even more precious, but despite the jeopardy which Helen, Jim, their friends and family and everyone in England face on a daily basis, the newlyweds refuse to give up on their dreams. Their hopes for the future are bright and they cannot wait to leave the family shop where Helen works and have a home all of their own where they can spend the rest of their lives together. However, all their dreams for the future are smashed to smithereens when Jim is killed in an air raid leaving Helen heartbroken, grief-stricken and facing the rest of her life without the man she loves with all of her heart by her side. Anguish, misery and despair become Helen’s constant companions. She simply cannot imagine the rest of her life without Jim and the future stretching out ahead of her is cold, lonely and frightening. With her world completely and utterly destroyed and with her mother making things even worse for her, Helen realises that if she is to break free from the pain that has consumed her, she must take her first tentative steps into the great unknown, and much to everyone’s surprise – including her own – she joins the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps.

Being a woman and part of the Police Corps is certainly not a walk in the park as Helen discovers. In wartime Manchester, poverty and hunger are a reality for many and with times being so desperate, even the most law abiding of folk would do whatever it takes to feed their starving families and keep a roof over their heads. Helen must use all of her determination and intelligence if she is to survive in this profession, however, as she begins to find her feet working with evacuees, the poor and the vulnerable, she finds herself thriving. Helen has found a renewed sense of purpose and as her confidence grows, she realises that after all the pain and unhappiness she has endured after her husband’s death, she might finally have found a chink of light at the end of the long and dark tunnel which she had been trapped in.

When love and happiness finally find their way back to her, will Helen take the ultimate risk and put her heart on the line for the second time? Or will she continue to be held hostage by the past?

Alrene Hughes’ The Girl from the Corner Shop is a captivating and engrossing historical saga that is deeply emotional, beautifully rendered and wonderfully evocative. Alrene Hughes effortlessly recreates the past with elan and flair and Manchester during the Second World War is described so vividly and brilliantly that you can almost hear the sirens blaring and feel the panic and jeopardy in the air.

Helen was such a fantastic heroine. Despite the tragic loss of her husband, she picked herself up and threw herself into a challenging and dangerous new role with courage and determination. She was a strong, intelligent and resilient heroine with a kind heart and a gentle spirit.

Written in the grand tradition of Dilly Court and Anna Jacobs, Alrene Hughes’ The Girl from the Corner Shop is saga writing at its finest!
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Thanks to NetGalley for an early copy in return for an honest review
A very good read and one I can highly recommend to others. 
I could not put this down.
Thoroughly enjoyable with an amazing cast of characters that you cannot help but engage with.
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The Home Front of WW2 and the lives of women in particular. This book has a gritty, true to life seam running through it and in particular through the life of Helen, the central character. Widowed and forced to live independently, Helen’s struggles and difficult choices are clearly outline highlighted the difficulties that young widows faced during this time. The seedy side of life is clearly illuminated and the reasons that young women would choose to follow this route are clear for all to se. And then the role played by the Home Front services- the Fire Service and the Police- are depicted. The bravery and resourcefulness as Helen joins the Auxiliary Police Force! This was a great book to read about a life changing and truly fascinating historical period.
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This story focuses on women in WW2, how their lives changed, and how many were exposed to deprivation, uncertainty and violence. The writing is full of vivid historical details and believable characters, some you dislike passionately, but most you admire, and can empathise.

Helen is newly married, living and working at her mother’s corner shop in Manchester. After a tragedy, leaves her widowed, and she finally rebels against her controlling mother in the midst of her grief, she finds herself jobless and in a home, she can’t afford.

Offered a lifeline by her godmother, she finds that not everything is as it first appears. Her brush with the seedier side of life, makes her rethink, can she give something to society and fill her lonely hours? Joining the Women’s Auxiliary Police Corps seems an opportunity too good to miss.

Helen naivety is shortlived, and her compassion and courage make her an excellent police auxiliary. The story is interesting and full of emotion and historical insight that make this wartime saga a page-turner. The challenges for Helen and women in war are realistic and give this story its authenticity.

This is a compelling story with great characters and a lovely hesitant love story that gives the story its hope for the future.

I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Helen Heaton works in her mother's corner shop and is married to her husbamd Jim, a firefighter. When Jim loses his life during a terrible night of bombing, Helen's world shatters and she's at a loss for where to find support as she knows she won't find it at home with her overbearing, highly critical mother. 

So she decides to try and improve her own life and leaves her home for the house Jim bought and where she and he would have moved had he survived. The house is a small, two-up-two-down place but to Helen and Jim it was to be the perfect starter home. 

Helen, still distraught, wonders how she'll ever be able to cope and sets about looking for a job and trying to make a life for herself. Thanks to the neighbors and her own efforts, her life improves. 

Her godmother Pearl offers her a job at her fashion agency and it was really fun to see the previously shy, reserved scared Helen slowly comes out of her shell. 

Will she find love again? 

Alrene Hughes has an AMAZING talent for witing engaging historical fiction that's laden with drama, relatable characters and realistic struggles but which keeps you hooked, and is so different and much more enjoyable than one which focuses on historical fact. So her books are like a life lesson rather than a history lesson and the settings are detailed enough to really make me feel as if I were there. 

After The Girl in the Pink Raincoat which was another 5 star book for me, I honestly can say that Alrene Hughes is my favourite historical fiction writer as the stories are personal, relatable and the struggles made me feel so so sad or so so happy which is the mark of a gripping book. 

Alrene Hughes also has a real skill at never boring her audience and I always find myself rooting for the characters.

On more than one occasion I had tears in my eyes during this novel, Jim sounded so caring and a real gentleman and Helen went through her fair share of hell and I identified with her trying to be strong throughout it. It really was humbling to see her struggle and slowly but surely rebuild her life and home. 

****Have tissues at the ready! ***** Alrene Hughes knows how to tug at your heartstrings more than wny other historical author I have read. 

What I love about her books are that they are more drama, feeling and experience set against a historical fiction background than an excess of historical fact which makes them heartbreaking and highly enjoyable at the same time and each has a real plot rollercoaster. 

I'm looking forward to much, much more from Alrene Hughes! 

Thanks to Alrene Hughes and Head of Zeus for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review. 

5 stars .
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This is my second book by Alrene Hughes, and it's a great read!

Helen, newly wed, is looking forward to moving from her under her mother's thumb to her first marital home. However, Jim's sudden death changes everything. In her grief, Helen finally finds the courage to stand up to her domineering mother and stand on her own two feet. Helen finds temporary work but as time goes on, she wants more satisfaction from her job and decides to join the Women's Auxiliary Police Force where she can help others. What does the future hold for the young widow?

This is a well-written tale of life in Manchester during WWII. The hard life endured, especially by women and children, is all between the pages and the pioneering spirit shines through. With a great variety of characters and some skilful writing, it's a very easy read and packed with detail. Several interweaving stories all twist together beautifully to make a very endearing read with, along with g

rief and sadness, a bit of mystery and a bit of romance. By the final page, all the loose ends are neatly tied off - my much preferred ending! An excellent wartime saga and well worth reading. For me, this is a five star novel.

My thanks to publisher Head of Zeus for my copy via NetGalley, and to Victoria Joss for inviting me to take part in this Blog Tour. All stated opinions are entirely my own.
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What a delightful read! I enjoyed THE GIRL FROM THE CORNER SHOP so much I have to add "The Girl in the Pink Raincoat" to my (ever-growing) list! I always enjoy a good WW2 historical fiction tale, though unlike Shirley Dickson in both her books, Alrene Hughes doesn't place a lot of focus on historical fact with the air raids or the war in general. It is more about a story set during that time. And an enjoyable one at that.

Helen Harrison is a young woman in her 20s who lives with her husband Jim, a fireman, above her mother's corner shop where also she works. It is approaching Christmas and Helen is looking forward to moving out of her mother's place and into a two-up two-down place with Jim in the New Year. When an air raid hits just as Helen is expecting her husband home from his shift and dinner about to go on the table, Helen and her mother take their meals down to the basement where they wait out the raid...which lasts 12 hours. 

As a fireman with Manchester Fire Brigade, Helen knows that Jim would have gone back on shift as soon as the raid hit. By morning after that raid, Helen emerges from their basement and is shocked to see the city in ruins. She decides to take Jim a sandwich and a flask of coffee as he would be exhausted after the night. But nothing prepares her for what she sees as she approaches the city's centre. Buildings destroyed as fire rages.

A young policeman ushers her away, informing her it isn't safe and that she should return home. But instead, she decides to head to the fire station in case Jim has returned there. Upon arrival she learns the devastating news that will change her life. Jim is dead.

Helen runs home in a daze, through the shop door, past her mother and up the stairs where she flings herself on her bed and cries. When her mother appears demanding to know what's to do, Helen only just manages to tell her. And in a rare show of affection, her mother takes her in her arms as she mourns the loss of her beloved Jim.

It is at Jim's funeral that Helen's godmother, Pearl, offers her a friendly shoulder should she ever need it. She discloses that she too knows what it is like to lose the one you love and grieve their loss, having lost her fiance in the battle of the Somme in 1916. She told Helen that you never completely get over it but it does get easier. 

In the days that followed Jim's death, life for Helen stifled in that shop with her mother was too much to bear. With never a positive word to say, her mother was overbearing and impossible and after one too many heated arguments, Helen packed her few belongings and moved into the little place she and Jim had planned on moving into in the New Year. With the rent paid two weeks in advance, Helen only had to find herself a job to enable her to continue living there. Remembering her godmother Pearl, Helen seeks her out where she offers her a weeks' work as a model in the Fashion Agency where she worked, followed by an office clerk filling in for the regular girl who was injured in the Christmas blitz - the same one that claimed her Jim.

One day, Helen is the only person on the floor when a woman walks in inspecting the clothing and asking questions, which Helen answered as best she could and she left promising she would return with a large order. A few days later, she arrived at work to discover the place in disarray. The business had been robbed! All the stock from the basement had been taken and the boss was furious! Helen suddenly had a sinking feeling as she recalled the woman who came in that day wanting to place a large order. The police came to question her and Helen was surprised to find it was the kindly young police constable who helped her the day Jim died. Now a detective constable in CID, Ken Kershaw questioned Helen and took her to the police station where she was able to identify the woman from their mug shots.

It was during this time that Ken told her about the Women Auxiliary Police Corps (WAPC) and that with her eye for detail and her courage she would make a great addition. They are always looking for women to join. Helen gave it some thought. But Frank, Jim's best mate and also a fireman, was livid at the prospect. She would be putting herself in harm's way and "Jim wouldn't want that".

However, as she found herself out of a job once again Helen began to ponder the good she could do as a WAPC. She certainly needed a job and feeling sure she could make a positive difference, she found herself at the Police Headquarters signing up to be a WAPC. After a successful interview, Helen then spent two solid weeks training before beginning an undertaking of a variety of duties assisting the police.

During the course of duties as a WAPC, Helen comes across a face she met briefly during her time with the Fashion Group at one of their after hours parties. Laurence Fitzpatrick. A doctor, no less, and a handsome one at that. Believing she would never see him again, when he sees her wedding ring she lets him assume she is married rather than a widow. She didn't want male attention or to marry again, so she didn't see the harm. But she does see Laurence again when she frequently visits a basement that houses women and children who have lost their homes during raids where he gives his free time as a doctor. As a WAPC, she is able to make a difference to these women and children, and help them get back on their feet again.

Then Helen is faced with her toughest challenge yet as a WAPC. But will it also be her last?

THE GIRL FROM THE CORNER SHOP is tale of the past as it sweeps you up in the story and makes you feel as if you are there, alongside Helen. The setting, the era, the people - it was an accurate portrayal of how life had been during the war. Helen was a sheltered young woman who had been dominated by her mother throughout her early life. Some may not be able to comprehend it but life was so different then by comparison to today. But it was during the war that women found their voices and their strengths to rise to the challenge and make the best of it by not only keeping the home fires burning but keeping life going as well. I found the portrayal of Helen to be an accurate one of a woman finding her wings after years of suppression.

THE GIRL FROM THE CORNER SHOP is the first book I've read by Alrene Hughes but I will be seeking out more by her in the future, adding "The Girl in the Pink Raincoat" and even her Martha Trilogy to my (ever-growing) TBR pile as soon as I am able to get my hands on them!

Beautifully written, THE GIRL FROM THE CORNER SHOP flows easily pulling the reader from the first page right through to the last. A tale about life, love, work and new beginnings, Helen's story unfolds under the clouds of the darkest days during WW2. Over the course of a year, we witness Helen go from being under her mother's stifling hand to growing her wings and learning to fly amidst every obstacle thrown in her path. A beautiful, heartwarming story that I did not want to put down! 

I highly recommend this beautiful story for fans of historical fiction.

I would like to thank #AlreneHughes, #NetGalley and #HeadOfZeus for an ARC of #TheGirlFromTheCornerShop in exchange for an honest review.
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Thanks to netgalley for an early copy in return for an honest review 
First time reading this Author and  it's a well thought out story  but lacking a bit of oomph  sorry to say not for me.
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This was an easy and enjoyable read.  It wasn’t a fantastic story and was quite predictable.   3.5 stars for me
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A heartbroken young widow joins the police force during World War Two in Manchester? Sign me up! And yet…

I just couldn’t get into The Girl from the Corner Shop. Despite the excellent concept and decent historical set-up, the story just plodded along and it (quite plainly) failed to get me emotionally invested as a reader.

A key part of this could have been the character of Helen, who could only be described as oddly sheltered for someone who is in her 20s, has been working in a shop for more than half a decade and is/was married. I found the character quite irritating and she seemed more like one-dimensional adolescent than an adult character with any depth.

Not the worst thing I’ve ever read but I found myself more disappointed than I might have been since I was really excited about the plot.
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This is first book I have read by Arlene Hughes and I am so pleased I have been given the chance to read this book.  it was very easy reading  and I felt very in tune with the main character Helen.  She had a few traumas and disappointments and without giving it away - it was so unteresting following her life ups and downs.  I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it in record time for me - would highly recommend .
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Really loved this book. Great characters and a lovely writing style. I very much enjoyed Alrene Hughes' previous book and this hit the mark too. HIghly recommended!
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I have loved reading the story  of Helen Harrison and how she rebuilds her life after losing her husband Jim early in the war.Feeling as though she was being stifled to death by her overbearing mother Helen leaves and moves in to the house that she and Jim had rented,life at first is hard but she goes to see her godmother Pearl who gets her a job.As time moves on Helen decides she wants to help the women and children who are in need of help and understanding.Helen becomes a Women's Auxiliary Police Corps (WAPC for short) and doing this job gives her a new leace on life.I don't want to spoil the book for others but just to say Alrene Hughes has now amazed me with two of books and if i could i would give this book more than 5*.I LOVED IT.
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